Hannah Bandmaster

Junior High and Middle School Methods (Music 4822)

Music Education Internship (Music 4860)


2/12/02 1st Period Band


I arrive and find Mr. Jones running a sectional with the clarinets. Trying to keep from interrupting, I quietly slip to the back of the room. I notice the typical band room decorating: trophies on the wall, a scale chart posted showing how many scales each student has learned, and a mess of music in the folder shelves.

7:50 Jones warns the percussion that the first song will be Silver Springs Soliloquy (by Robert Sheldon).
7:55 The students are coming in now and I get some stares but no questions. Jones adjusts the countdown on the white board to read 14 days. (I assume this is days until the conert).

The rehearsal begins with warmups using scale exercises out of a method book. Jones points out the different articulations. I can't help but notice the horrible playing postures. The playing stops and Jones says to a trombonist not participating, "If any of you still need books just bring me six bucks and I'll get you one."

8:06 Students arriving late and quietly setting up. Jones then asks the students to play a Gb major scale. he begins with the instruments in C concert and leads the scale two beats to a note. Then he has the Bb concert instruments: trumpet, clarinet, baritone saxophone, etc. do the same exercise. then he has the Eb instruments do the same. Then he asks everyone to play together with the same exercise. I notice students randomly dropping out. I wonder if this exercise is too hard or just boring. Jones points out the reason for spending so long on Gb. He says to improve the section of Amazing Grace that is also in Gb. One of the saxophonisists objects aloud to such a long exercise for such a short section in the song.
8:16 Jones leaves the podium to attempt to find missing music parts for the bassoonist. Everyone noodles or talks. Jones gest on podium and conducts the group through Silver Springs. When they finish he lectures that this song is easy enough for a middle school band to sight-read and that the performance they just gave frustrates him. he tells them to concentrate. As if to defend the flute solo, Jones points out to me that the flutist who is going to play that solo is in 3rd period band. He then tells the flutes he still expects them to get it right.
8:25 Jones then proceeds to rehearse Silver Springs. He points out various things---dynamics, phrasing, intonation, by yelling out over their playing. [I really don't find this effective but know that it would seem to save time compared to stopping and restarting every time a comment needed to be made.] Jones then stops the group and emphasizees to them to make phrasing longer than in 2 measure fragments. He then takes a second to compliment the trumpet soloist. [I think this very important to do as a director.] (I'm having a hard time observing Jones because I just want to listen to the music). Jones starts the group again the stops again to point out phrasing. (I am frustrated by the lack of counting in the flute section).
8:40 I count 39 students in this period, 13 girls and 26 boys. The students continue to talk [which I find annoying]. Jones reluctantly repeats instructions to trumpets who were talking when he first directed them.
8:50 The students all cheer when Jones says to put away Silver Springs and then they boo when he instructs them to get out Amazing Grace (arranged by Jay Dawson). He ignores these remarks! [That really impressed me because I have a tendency to react to anything like that even if it accomplishes nothing.] Jones starts the piece then stops and yells at the trumpets just 3 measures in for missing their entrance. They immediately respond with excuses. (I laugh to myself). Jones then rehearses the piece stopping to fix intonation and missed note---key of Gb. (I am amazed by Jones' ability to hear all the parts). When the snare drum enters on cue, Jones chuckles and says, "Jerry, you gotta learn how to roll."
9:00 Students cheer about instructions to play through Allegro Barbaro (by Bartok, arranged by Tom Wallace). The class waits a minute for percussion to get set up for this work. They start then Jones stops them and says sarcastically, "We don't want to play it badly." He points out missed notes and note values. (I think the students like this one for the fast tempo and groove due to syncopations).
9:05 Students put their stuff away and Jones turns on Channel 1. The percussionists are still noodling. (I notice how few students actually clean out their horns). Jones comes back to speak with me. He explains how he's been at Jerusalem High for 2 years. Last year he had 38 students in the program and this year he has about 40 freshman. He says next year he will be able to separate out an auditioned group.

[Hannah visited Jones' classes on several occasions and later in the semester he asked her if she would be able to work with his classes on a day he was gone. Below is Hannah's journal of these experiences. Notice how her observation changed when she was directing the class.]

2/27/02 1st period Band (I conducted in Jones' absence).

Since I am writing this hours after it happened, all of it shall be in brackets.) I arrived at approximately 7:40 so Jones could show me how to work the tuner and television and introduce me to the substitute teacher. I was extremely excited and nervous.

I started with warm-ups from the book---we did Ab major---and then did an exercise in harmony. I splite the group up into three parts and started each group on the Bb scale a third apart. I directed them to listen to each other and the harmonies.

Then we tuned and I called up Amazing Grace. Then we rehearseed. After that we did The Thunderer March, then Three Flags, then Silver Springs.

For Three Flags I asked the students to really listen for where the melody was at all times and listen for problems they thought were fixable. I rehearse them, stopping periodically to ask for self-evaluation comments from the students. I made sure that everyone was listening and understood the comments. I was impressed with their ability to find their own problem spots. Wh knows if I changed a thing but it was fun!.

For Silver Spring I asked the students to switch places so no one---except the percussionists---was to be sitting in their normal seat. After a bit of chaos they all got situated and we rehearsed. Before we started I asked them to take advantage of the situation, not to talk to new people, but to really listen to the various parts being played around them. I'm not sure it was effective but they loved the experiment.

Other than having to quiet the percussion a few times, this period went great! The fact that I was sight-reading the scores caused a few problems but I was amazed with myself for doing as well as I did.

2/27/02 4th period orchestra (Again, I'm conducting)

I was a bit more nervous for this class because most of my orchestra experience has been at the university level. I didn't know what I'd do if someone asked me to help with a bowing or do a quick fix on their instrument.

Most of the students arrived on time and went straight to chit-chatting. I'll admit I was very tired by this time so I gave in and talked for a minute with them. I was unconsciously avoiding starting rehearsal. OOPS!

I flipped on the tuner to a concert A and left it on for some time hoping everyone would quickly sit down and tune their instruments. Only about half of them caught my drift but I went on anyway.

First, I called up the Mozart piece because Mr. Jones had mentioned something about needing to work on the last movement. After a bit of a struggle on my part, I managed to starte rehearsing. Only then, when I stopped to fix a problem spot, some of the students informed me that this movement was most likely not going to be performed on their upcoming concert. I could do nothing but believe them so I stopped with that movement and we then rehearsed the first movement.

(I need to note that by this points I was shaking with nervousness. I felt as if these kids were looking right through me and knew I was so inexperienced and overly anxious to do well).

The first violins wouldn't stop talking and laughing and the basses wouldn't stop noodling. (I was getting quite upset!)

We then rehearsed Shrek, Johan Williams' Schindler's Themes, and Pennywhistle Jig. Other than a few problems with tempo changes, I sight-read the scores fairly well. The students are overall very good players and I was impressed.

With still eight or nine minutes of class left I told the students we were through for the day. I was relieved to be done and packed up my stuff to go.

I had made it a point to thank every group for their work and except for a few kids, I think they had fun.